The Only 4th Trimester Survival Guide You’ll Ever Need: What No One Tells You

Listen up, ladies. I am here to give you the ultimate list of how to survive your 4th trimester. This is as honest as it’s going to get.

(Why, yes, that feature image you see is my postpartum belly. There is not a baby in there. NOPE. That’s what my belly looks like 24 hours after giving birth.)

1. Postpartum Punch

This punch is magical. My nurses brought it to me after I gave birth and then I made a fresh batch of it when I got home from the hospital. I kept it in my fridge for quick and easy access when I needed more nourishment than water alone could give me. You want to use equal parts of all four ingredients in any container of your choosing.

Recipe {equal parts of the following}:

  • Sprite
  • Orange Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Apple Juice

2. Food/Snacks/Meal Train

The hardest part for me during those first few weeks were being able to take care of my toddler (mainly giving him enough attention) and preparing and eating enough food. As a breastfeeding mom, it is imperative to get enough water, rest, and nourishment to make milk for your baby. I set up a meal train website for my family and friends to use to sign up to bring us a meal. Below are some tips you may find useful:

  • Stock up on disposable utensils, napkins, and dishes to help cut down on dishes and help get a quick meal or snack on the table. Make sure you get something that is microwavable. 
  • Have snacks for the older siblings; make sure these are easy to access and easy to make (pouches, cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit, goldfish, etc.).
  • If you feel like overachieving you can prepare some freezer meals before you give birth and stock up on some of your favorites! Here are some Freezer Cooking Basics to help you get started.
  • Don’t forget about Instacart for grocery delivery, BiteSquad and Grubhub for restaurant delivery, and the Slice app will tell you which pizza places deliver nearby!

3. Financial Burden

This is such a precious time in your life and the last thing you want to worry about is money. Paid maternity leave basically doesn’t exist in the United States and it’s awful. These are a few items to keep in mind when you’re budgeting for those first few months after your new baby arrives:

  • Birth and newborn photography
  • Birth videography
  • Breastfeeding moms
    • Home visit with an IBCLC (this was LIFE SAVING for me; thank you, Kristin!)
    • (If needed) lip/tongue tie out of pocket costs
  • Chiropractic visits
  • Loss of income from maternity leave
  • Child care for older siblings
  • Postpartum doulas — I used Blessed Assurance Birth Doula
  • Medical costs that insurance doesn’t cover (hospitals, specialists, sick visits, etc.)
    • Add your child to your health insurance ASAP. You normally have about 30 days from your child’s birth date to add her/him to an existing health insurance policy. Make sure you do this so you don’t wind up with a sick child and no coverage.
  • …and so much more!

4. Self-care

I can not stress this one enough. Do NOT wait until it’s too late to get help if you think you’re battling postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or postpartum rage. Reach out to anyone and everyone, even if it’s just “baby blues.”

  • Call your doctor, midwife, or medical professional.
  • Take time to decompress (long bath, shower, yoga, breathing exercises, prayer).
  • I used essential oils for relaxation and aid in my healing.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have someone ask you, “What do you need? How can I help?” be ready to answer that question. Try and focus on what will help YOU in that moment. Is it a shower? Is it getting this dishes done? Is it playing with the older kiddos? Nap? Consume a dozen brownies? Eat a hot meal? Go for a 30-minutes drive alone? Folding laundry or holding baby? 

5. Padsicles and your postpartum body

  • Yes, you read that correctly. I’m talking about an ice pack for your lady bits. You can use extra large and long maxi pads or if you’re in a jam — size 1 or newborn diapers. I would put witch hazel, lavender and frankincense essential oils, and crushed up ice inside the diaper for extra relief. Hello, gloriousness. 
  • Keep ALL of your maternity clothes. I am currently six weeks postpartum and still wear my maternity pants and tank tops underneath all my clothing. It helps to support your postpartum belly and helps the transition back into your “pre-pregnancy clothes.” Maybe I’ll get back in those in a few months OR NEVER. Have 1-2 pairs of black comfy pants that you can wear if you need to run an errand or drop your older kids off at childcare or school. 
  • Please, please, PLEASE give yourself some grace about your body. You just gave birth to a human being! You need to focus on healing, recovery, and staying healthy. Your body will still look like you’re pregnant for awhile and THAT. IS. OK. That was your child’s home for 9-10 months and kept them safe and healthy. 
  • Postpartum baths are amazing for healing. I used the following ingredients in mine:
    • Epsom salt
    • Lavender Essential Oil
    • Frankincense Essential Oil
      • When using Essential Oils, make sure you mix them in with epsom salt or any other soaps you would like to use so the oils don’t sit on top of the water.
  • Honestly, there are so many things that no one tells you or warns you about regarding your body post birth. I could go on forever about this section but I have a word limit by which I must abide. Feel free to share or comment below on what you were most surprised about because I’m sure I could relate!

6. C-section Mommies

Since I have had two vaginal births, I had my other Knoxville Moms Blog contributors give me their tips and tricks that helped them survive their 4th trimester recovery. Here are some of their insider tips:

“Comfy pants and roomy dresses that don’t hit your wound! Walking helped me heal — the more walking the faster I got better. I had 3 c-sections, and the first one I laid around and babied myself and I ended up with an infection and they had to open it back up at two weeks. With my others, I was up walking the hospital ward every couple hours, and then the neighborhood when I got home. I healed so much faster and they were much more invasive surgeries, with a classical incision.”

“Jumbo drug store maxi pads. I put them on the incision, held in place by my the waist of my panties (and the folded over flap of skin from my belly ). It was sooo much more comfortable, and kept the incision clean because I changed the pads a few times a day.

Also, when you’re ready to be rid of the maxi, the incision is still a little tender, so high-waisted panties that don’t touch the incision are great.

For the first week or two, a small travel pillow to keep close by. Hold it on your belly when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or poop. Everything your abdomen does for the first couple days/weeks feels like the stitching is ripping open.”

“Robes.

High-waisted EVERYTHING.

A loving human being to help you and any older siblings

Most importantly, be present. Snuggle your baby, pray as often as possible, and let as many people that are willing, help you in this delicate and vulnerable time in your motherhood journey.

YOU GOT THIS, GIRL!”

What helped you survive your 4th trimester?

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6 Responses to The Only 4th Trimester Survival Guide You’ll Ever Need: What No One Tells You

  1. Lindsay
    Lindsay October 20, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Meredith, this is fabulous. Thanks so much for compiling such a resourceful, thoughtful, and honest list!

  2. Meredith King October 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Thank you so much! I spent a lot of time and definitely put a lot of thought into it. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Natalie
    Natalie October 24, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    These really are some great tips Meredith!

    • Meredith October 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

      Thank you!! It took me awhile to compile everything but I knew it would be a great reference for everyone.

  4. kat October 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    no one tells you about the belly and it’s intimidating to see thin women bounce back immediately after. everyone’s body does it differently so don’t feel inadequate if you don’t thin out immediately.

    also for the incision; high doses of vit c will heal the wound faster.

    • Meredith October 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

      Exactly! I was shocked about the belly part. Like, I thought this baby was out of me??? WHY IS THIS BELLY STILL AROUND?!

      That’s a great tip about Vitamin C. I’ll have to add that into my routine along with my prenatal vitamin I still take since I’m breastfeeding.

      Thanks for sharing, Kat!

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